Many of the side effects of prunes may cause you to think twice before consuming this natural laxative. These cousins of the plum typically come in dried form. You can use these fruits in sweet and savory dishes like stews, North African tagines, compote tzimmes, cakes, and soups.
Prunes are a common home remedy for constipation. Children and adults alike can use prune juice to treat constipation. However, taking this fruit in excess may adversely affect your body. This article examines the side effects of prunes and their scientific basis. Take a look below.
In This Article
What Are The Side Effects Of Prunes?
Prunes do make your bowel movements smoother and offer some other benefits too. But like everything else in nature, prunes too can cause a few side effects. Here are a few side effects of eating prunes:
1. Dangers Of Acrylamide
Prunes contain a high concentration of acrylamide, which is considered a carcinogen and a neurotoxin (1). Acrylamide is not naturally found in normal food, except when it is cooked at temperatures above 100° C.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization, the amount of acrylamide required to cause neuropathic harm is about 500 times the daily dietary intake. So, consuming prunes is relatively safe. However, the carcinogenicity is a concern as prunes were found to be highly carcinogenic to the animals that were tested in labs.
2. Prunes Can Cause Diarrhea
The insoluble fiber in prunes can cause or worsen diarrhea. This is why you need to avoid them when you have diarrhea (2). There have also been certain cases of people who had experienced diarrhea post the ingestion of prunes and prune juice (3). This can be attributed to the laxative property of prunes. They are natural laxatives as they contain a laxative compound called sorbitol. So, an unregulated dose or having too many of these fruits can easily lead to diarrhea.
Some sources also talk about the dietary fructose intolerance found in many individuals, which can also lead to abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Prunes contain high amounts of sugar, which might trigger such a problem.
3. May Lead To Weight Gain
One serving of 6 uncooked prunes contains 137 calories and 22 grams of sugar. That sure is a little on the higher end. And a one-cup serving of prune juice contains about 185 calories. Though the fiber in the fruit can aid weight loss, taking them in excess can have the opposite effect.
Prunes also have a high glycemic load (how much any particular food will raise a person’s glucose levels post consumption) (4). This means consuming prunes can elevate your blood sugar levels more than most other fruits.
4. Can Cause Intestinal Gas And Bloating
Prunes contain complex carbohydrates and sugars that do not completely break down in the digestive tract (5). So, when the sugars reach the colon, the bacteria start feeding on these undigested carbohydrates.
These bacteria are responsible for intestinal gas and bloating. This can also lead to farting. You can take alpha-D-galactosidase before eating prunes as it reduces intestinal gas by breaking down the complex carbohydrates before they reach your gut.
5. May Lead To Laxative Dependency
Prunes are mostly used as irritant laxatives. However, those who suffer from frequent constipation should not rely on prunes completely to clear their digestive system. This can lead to laxative dependency after a certain period of usage, which can aggravate the condition and cause complications (6).
6. May Cause Dark Stools
Prunes are rich in iron and, like most iron-rich foods, can cause dark stools if taken in excess.
Prunes have their own set of side effects, but you can still consume them in moderation.
Prunes are a delicious addition to confectioneries, however, excess consumption may lead to adverse reactions. The side effects of prunes range from causing diarrhea to unwanted weight gain. The consumption of prunes in excess can have detrimental effects on your gut health. It may cause gas, bloating, or darken your stools. Usually, prunes are consumed for their natural laxative effects, however, one can become dependent on them and this may result in many complications. If possible, try to limit your intake or stay away from it entirely to avoid such issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if you eat prunes every day?
Prunes are loaded with many beneficial nutrients. However, eating them in excess may cause diarrhea.
Can prunes give you a stomach ache?
Prunes contain sorbitol, which is hard to digest for some people. This may trigger stomach aches, bloating, and mild nausea.
Are prunes good for IBS?
No, prunes are not good for people with IBS. The sugar alcohols in prunes may aggravate the symptoms of IBS.
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- “Acrylamide and cancer risk.” National Cancer Institute.
- “When you have diarrhea.” US National Library of Medicine.
- “Factitious diarrhea.” US National Library of Medicine.
- “Changes in intake of fruits and…” US National Library of Medicine.
- “Bloating 101: Why you feel bloated.” WebMD.
- “Constipation in older adults.” US National Library of Medicine.